The growing cases of Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) calls for an integrated action plan and key intervening strategies as part of the proposed National Health Policy, 2015, remark medical practitioners and health policy experts.
World Health Organization data for 2014 indicates that NCDs account for an estimated 60% of all deaths in India. Among these NCDs, cardio-vascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes are most prevalent.
"NCDs are the major cause of mortality in India. Building and strengthening primary healthcare network with a focus on disease screening, prevention, risk-factor control and health promotion should form the rudimentary structure of the integrated action plan to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with NCDs," said Kenneth Thorpe, chairman, Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases, a global organization working to combat such diseases.
A report released by World Economic Forum and Harvard School of Public Health in 2014 showed that India is set to lose $4.58 trillion as a result of NCDs between 2012 and 2030. The report, however, said primary prevention of NCDs with a focused approach, if implemented, could reverse this trend with a return on investment of at least 15%.
"India is facing a serious threat from NCDs. It is crucial that both the government and private sector should adopt a unified approach and work in close coordination to identify effective solutions and reduce NCDs burden. Now it is high time that the government should frame strong policies and guidelines, and at the same time create a framework and infrastructure to execute them efficiently, in order to deal with the growing burden," said Dr Anand Krishnan, professor at the Center for Community Medicine, AIIMS - New Delhi.
A unique combination of disease-specific insurance products, medicines, innovative technology and lifestyle changes can be very beneficial in thwarting the challenge posed by NCDs, Thorpe said.
Health experts emphasized it is important to have a result-oriented action plan as part of the National Health Policy, with specific focus on awareness and early diagnosis, systematic approach to NCDs, healthcare financing, and training and development of healthcare workers and paramedical staff.